Cogeneration the answer for BP?
By Soren velice
To curtail rising energy costs, BP Cherry Point Refinery has made the first step toward a cogeneration plant to produce its own power.
The company cited skyrocketing energy prices as the impetus for the move. Before last December, we paid about $2 million a month for electricity, communications officer Scott Walker said. This winter, we had one day that cost over $1 million.
The refinery plans to produce up to 750 megawatts with at least three natural gas-fired turbines. That would give the redundancy we need so we could operate any two if one is shut down for maintenance, Walker said. The plant uses 85 megawatts, so the rest would be sold, perhaps to other industrial users such as Intalco.
Reasons he gave for producing that much power were that turbines are more efficient the bigger they are, redundancy is necessary to prevent a blackout and pollution controls are more efficient on larger installations.
Another benefit of such a system is that waste heat from the turbines can be used to make steam, which in turn would power secondary turbines and eliminate the boilers currently in use.
To get things moving, the refinery applied Tuesday to the state Energy Facility Siting and Evaluation Council for a potential site study for the project. The first filing gets us in the process, he said. The agency will try to identify concerns with the project, contact local, state and federal agencies and have a public hearing.
Walker said BP is still going ahead with plans to replace diesel generators with smaller, skid-mounted gas turbines because the cogeneration plant is a long way off. Itll be at least two and a half to three years from today, he said.